Posted by on July 9th, 2015

Greetings everyone!

I’ll keep this one short, promise! This is a week late but I really wanted to write a brief wrap-up for June. It was a busy month filled with nonstop play testing, bug fixes, and nerf wars. We launched Alpha 0.8.5 a few weeks ago but we didn’t stop there. We’re constantly on the grind at Nerd Kingdom, so what comes after an update for us?

After patch monitoring

While we extensively test our own patches in-house, after any release we make sure to monitor user activity to see if you all come across anything we didn’t. It’s fairly standard for game studios to keep an eye on bug reports and rage comments to make sure the patch went smoothly. This means we are ready to look into and do our best to fix any major reported bugs. We have been pretty good so far *knocks on wood*.

Planning

We revisit our existing plans after each patch cycle to see how (or if) we want to reprioritize any upcoming features or systems. After that, we break the work into sets of smaller goals that can generally be done in smaller internal milestones known as Sprints. No, this does not mean we are going to race around the office. Our public releases typically occur after 2-3 Sprints; this length can be longer or shorter depending on what we’re trying to get out (and what bugs we encounter).

What we are working right now

Here’s a nice little list for you. We will go over these in detail for our future blogs.

  • Crafting Journal
  • Adult Bear Ram
  • Equippable Helmets
  • More Modular Tools
  • Specialized Containers
  • Improvements to pet system
  • NK Launcher improvements (non-steam client)
  • Placement Snapping
  • Resource Variations
  • Super long term stuff
  • Lots of engine tech R&D
  • Art style update

We are committed to making TUG a unique and fun game for you. Give us some time and we will keep you updated as we move forward.

In the meantime, check out the latest “In The Works” episode.

Cambo Out!

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Posted by on May 21st, 2015

Hey guys. This is Grim from NK here to tell you a little about how the voxel shapes in TUG are represented. This will get a little technical, so bear with me!

Many people try to think about voxels in terms of blocks. Blocks are easy to think about! Blocks can be either solid or air which are stored as 1’s or 0’s in data.

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In TUG we have smooth voxel contouring that can represent a variety of shapes. Smooth shapes are hard to represent as blocks. Because there is no good way to tell if a block should be smoothed-over or not. We solve this issue by storing our voxel data as a signed distance field. A signed distance field is a grid of numbers that tells us the distance away from the nearest geometrical surface. A positive value means we are outside of the surface, and a negative value means we are inside the surface. Here’s an example in 2D for a circle:

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Red values are negative (inside) and green values are positive (outside).

Each voxel is assigned a field value based on the distance to the center of the circle.

A signed distance field shape representation is convenient when it comes to adding and subtracting geometry from the world. To add another shape, we just have to take the smallest distance-field value from both shapes.

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Notice how the field values outside the first circle have been replaced with the smaller field values of the second circle.

Removing geometry is also easy! All we have to do is negate the field values of the circle being removed so the inside (negative) field values become outside (positive) field values, and then take the largest field value. Adding and subtracting any shape is possible as long as a field function for the shape can be defined.

Now you might be wondering how a signed distance field is actually turned into triangles that can be rendered in-game. Remember that a surface sits where the field values change from positive to negative. We start by identifying the edges along voxels where there are sign changes.

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After we have identified a surface edge, we have to find where the surface actually sits along the edge. Depending on the field values at the two edge end-points, we can place a point along the edge.

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After these edges and points are identified, we use the surface-edge intersections to come up with a single vertex position for each voxel. We calculate a voxel vertex position by averaging together all of the intersection points.

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There are more expensive techniques to place interior-voxel points more accurately (like Dual Contouring with QEFs), but we have opted for speed over accuracy.

Now that we have voxel points, we have to figure out how to connect them together into faces. This is done by connecting together points across edges that have sign changes.

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You can see that the average points connected together do not perfectly represent the circle, but it is pretty close.

 

 

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This process extends directly to 3D except that the squares are cubes, and that a cube edge has four voxel neighbors instead of two. Across these edges we connect all 4 voxel neighbor positions together to form two triangles.

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I hope you have an idea about how geometry in TUG is represented underneath the hood. I hope you’ve enjoyed my overview!

If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message on twitter @NKGrim. 

Don’t forget to check out the latest “In The Works” video on Creative mode rework.

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Posted by on May 7th, 2015

Hey, Kingdom!

My name is Artie (@input_output_7) and I am writing this week’s blog. I’ll be providing an inside look behind the game design of transforming your seed’s body! It is currently in the works and is at its basic stage. So, grab yourself a sandwich, some fruit, or whatever pleases your hunger because you might get a little hungry while reading this, or it might influence some physical activity.

This is an early prototype of the system.  We don’t have all the features in for it that will show off body changes in muscle and definition but I think you’ll get the idea of where we’re headed!

In TUG, we want to provide our players visual representations for what type of actions and skills they’ve performed over time. One of these visual cues is your seed’s body type, which is dependent on your eating habits!  We’ll be tracking other items such as physical activities and skill based actions in the future but for this prototype, we’re only worried about your food consumption.

Stat wise, a particular seed’s body type projects its strength, agility, constitution, energy, and movement speed. By allowing the player the ability to adjust their body type via their eating habits, the character can increase/decrease its base health, stamina, energy, and movement speed over the course of gameplay. Be aware there are trade-offs (We’ll talk about those in a future blog).

The way we’re currently calculating the player’s potential of increasing or decreasing its body size is relative to the amount of time there is in a day and if you’ve exceeded the required amount of energy (that is, your energy bar) needed to stay replenished for THAT day. An example would be: if you’ve overeaten, around 3 times more than your max energy in a single day, expect to gain the max amount of points towards your body size. You can see the results in your arms and stomach after waking up from a deep sleep on your comfy crude bed.

It’s worth mentioning that edibles are the only consumables that are taken into account towards affecting your body size. So having a fuel potion each day is like drinking slim fast. You may be gaining your daily energy but you’re definitely not going to gain any weight, just lose it.

Here’s a collection of day-by-day pics I’ve taken of my body transformation:

Day 1
Started off fresh. I’m feeling 100 with a body type in between thin and large.

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Day 2
Ohh man, am I hungry. I didn’t have any time to eat yesterday because I was busy gathering resources for clothing, tools, and weapons! My hips and arms are slightly thinner in size. Forget about that! Do you like my hide vest?

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Day 4
Whoa, did those tools and weapons help! I was able to gather so much fruit and meat that I rewarded myself with large meals. I ate so much I gained the max weight for each day. I couldn’t help it. I was too hungry! What do you think about my hair?

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Day 7
So, for the past 5 days I’ve been bulking up to prepare myself to survive in the freezing polar biome. I’ve also changed my hairdo! I look good, right? It’s pretty darn cold up here in the polar region. I think I’ll head back to the bamboo forest for some sunshine.

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Day 9
Alright, I’ve reached the max size! My arms are thicker and my stomach is wider. I gotta tone it down a bit.

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Day 18
I needed a new look, and yeap, it’s true what they say about the liquid diet – it works. 10 straight days of not eating a single thing … well I lied, I ate SOME fruit each day, but I was mainly on that fuel potion.

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If you have questions, drop a comment below or tweet me @input_output_7 and @x_nekochu_x.

– Artie

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Posted by on April 30th, 2015

Last week’s blog focused on our new skydome, which allows our artists to really push stylization with shape and color exploration. @NKDenthorn did a stellar job programming in the skydome feature because I, @TheCamboRambo, was able to pull off some slick color combinations for the environment and I am no artist. Really… check out my sweet “Seed” concept art if you think I am kidding.

Now that we have this feature, what’s next? More biomes of course! If you have been playing TUG since the old terrain generation tech, you’ll notice that there are a few biomes missing in our current build. The good news is that  @input_output_7 and @x_nekochu_x is working hard to get them all back in. They were temporarily removed because it required some rework for the new terrain generation tech.

Warning! The updated biomes will break game your games saves once we have it in. We tried our best to avoid this but the biome generation code has changed significantly.

With this new update we have reworked our generation system.  While a lot of these biomes will look familiar and others are being brought back from some of our older generations, the big change you will see is biomes of proper size! Gone are the tiny deserts or the smattering of trees from one biome in the middle of the other.  You will see vast plains, large arid sands and polar regions tucked away in the mountains.

This update also gives us much better control over the restrictions of biome regions.  What this means is that we are able to control which biome occurs next to another.  So no more snowy mounds in the middle of a desert!  Unless that’s your thing…

Finally one more little addition that will come out of this update is a one to one for material gathering.  We’re opening up the floodgates and now when you dig a particular rock pattern, you can expect to get resources of that rock to place back into the world.  There will still be cobblestone and other unique patterns but now you’ll be able to build with the cliff rocks and granite that has previously been unavailable in survival mode.

Now feast your eyes on some biomes!

Check out our latest ‘In The Works’ video of the new skydome tech and art revamp tease. The art update is still very early but we are moving towards that direction!

 

Cambo checking out

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Posted by on April 23rd, 2015

Good afternoon everyone! @Cambo here to give you a quick brief on what’s happening in the studio.

The last patch focused primarily on adding content and on-going tech progress. We added magic spells, critter taming and breeding, and a nifty shield for blocking. However, we had to switch gears these past few weeks to focus on the big tech stuff so don’t expect much content for the next patch. Our artists are still slamming away creating assets but they won’t be in until we have the systems ready.

Oh yea, we had a group of students from RL Turner High School AMAT program visit us this week for a field trip. A few of our team gave them a presentation on the realities of working in a game studio. I wish we had this type of field trip back in my day. Instead, all I got was a trip to the rock museum *no offense to geologist*.

So whats in the haps? The dedicated server is progressing. We are also revamping our creative mode user interface to make it more user friendly with item filters and utilizing CEGUI. We started our modular tool system which will allow you to mix and match resources for crafting tools. There’s been a lot of progress on the terrain tech and hopefully we can bring back the older biomes in the next few iterations.

Today, I have an early look of our revamped SkyBox that @NKDenthorn is working on. It’s something some gamers might not appreciate. Just imagine playing Skyrim with static clouds that never move or change forms. You may as well just run around looking at your feet.

Our current SkyBox is rendering a static cloud image, placed on a moving plane above you. This gives you the illusion that the clouds are moving but the clouds are flat. The moving plane helps with the immersion but will look warped when you look at a distance.  This perspective issue is more noticeable when you are looking into the horizon.

 

 

 

 

Our revamped SkyBox now has generated clouds, a moon, and a sun that revolves around the player on a hemisphere. Possibly even planets too, yea? This will help with your perspective when you are looking into the distance. The best part is that our artists are able to customize pretty much anything in the sky.This will allow them to have creative freedom for the environment and fine tune things on the fly.

Disclaimer: @NKDenthorn wants to let you know he is no artist so forgive him for these poor examples.

@NKDenthorn will write a future tech blog once we get closer to releasing the new SkyBox.

The past few weeks have been extremely busy for me, so I did not have a chance to bring out some new “In The Works” footage for everyone.

Cheers!

Cambo Out~

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Posted by on April 8th, 2015

Ahoy! Enjoy fun, hunting KIDS! ALL THE KIDS! Goat kids… ya creeps. This update brings breeding and taming to the world of The Uncanny Gerbils, along with a few sparkly bits with teh magicks… magic? magik? idk. Keep in mind, that everything you are seeing in game now is not final, but does give us a chance to see how things impact the overall experience and performance of the game. Of course, if something is not to your liking in a current iteration you can always, ya know… mod it.

Expect a lot more focus on content for the next couple of releases, while we start to work on the design and early development of the engine move over to openGL, so we can hit much lower machine specs and get the game out there in the hands of more players. Along with this, dedicated servers are ALMOST done, and you should follow @camfergusondfw for updates on that. Also, hes got this streaming bug right now, so you can also poke him on stream on occasion here.

We have made some big progress since we started this project way back in Kickstarter, and have gotten a lot of support from all of you, fellow developers, and even financial partners. Its been absolutely overwhelming to be able to take our project this far and have an opportunity to take it beyond what we initially thought we could accomplish. We have big plans and big support, and we are anxious to show you guys what we have up our sleeves.

OH! And big congratz to our Art Director @inkmech, who just had a beautiful, healthy baby girl! Well, he didn’t have a baby, that’d be weird… but you know what I mean.

As usual, rage @brennanpriest42

For leaks of things that make the devs cringe, cause I have a problem follow me here @inoritewtf

And if you think we need CorgiGoats for REALS, yell @x_nekochu_x

Update announces can be found here @theuntitledgame

And general geekery stuffs around TUG development can be found here @nerdkingdom

New Features

  • Added a Sand Layer underneath several biomes so players aren’t dependent on finding a Desert for sand.
  • Alternative terrain generators are back. Note the Survival generation is still the main, balanced generator for gameplay
  • Goat Kid added to generation, no not a satyr…
  • Animals will now react to players holding food and can be fed.
  • Baby versions of Cats and Goats can be domesticated. The BearRam Cub cannot and adult wild Cats and Goats cannot be domesticated.
  • Pets can be set to follow or stay by targeting them and right clicking.
  • Players can breed adult, domesticated animals from tamed baby versions.
  • Adult domesticated animals can breed and have babies.
  • Fireball and Ice Blast spells are now craftable and castable. You will need to craft their respective items, enter the casting stance with ‘t’, and left click to cast
  • A crude age shield is now in the game
  • Blocking can be performed when a shield is equipped with a weapon. Blocking is performed by holding down the right mouse button

Fixes

  • Found a major memory optimization when first loading animations in the game. It should dramatically reduce memory consumption when loading game objects by nearly 3x
  • Fixed a bug with emitters not displaying
  • AI should save their positions now between each game session
    Creature spawners now respect their cooldown timers. New animals won’t spawn in every time you load a game.
  • Fixed a crash when first creating/joining a game
  • Fixed a crash when exiting TUG
  • Fixed an issue where attempting to transfer a tool/weapon to a full container would restore the durability on that item
  • Fixed an issue where swords weren’t cutting certain types of grass billboards
  • Fixed a Lua error when a player left a game before respawning
  • Fixed a Lua error when a player entered Z placement mode in Creative mode and then switched to 3rd person camera
  • Banana Bunches are harvestable again
  • Generated coconuts no longer hover several feet above the ground.
  • Fixed some cases where the Fuel Potion wasn’t restoring energy
  • Added in a console message when players join a server

Known Issues

  • Player collision is slightly desync’d from their visual location. It is lagging slightly behind where a player has moved from
  • Pets have no distinguishing features from wild animals
  • Some animal movement is not animating correctly, so creatures may appear to slide
  • Pet animations are sync’ed when you reload a world
  • Pet timers and health are reset between sessions
    If you die too far away from your last save, pets can get lost
  • The run key (shift) is not a bindable key
  • You can lose mouse cursor if you dismiss server disconnect message with keyboard.
  • There are some mouse cursor issues when TUG is the active window. It’ll exhibit itself as an active cursor that will still access your Windows desktop. If this occurs to you, send us your system specs.
  • Clients can come across strips of missing terrain. Reloading/rejoining the game sessions should be resolve the issue in the short term.
  • Clients are crafting slower than the Server player
  • Creative mode has several usability issues that we’re currently working on.
  • The Vine Fence Cage Trap doesn’t have collision along it’s walls when it has trapped something
  • If you have the fireball equipped, when you rejoin a server, the first shot may orient into a default position rather than where you are facing. You can resolve this by re-equipping the spell first.
  • If you die right as you enter a stance, you may get stuck in that stance (until you exit and rejoin)

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